Child Language
Past Tense Verbs

The Past Tense Verb Page has 2 sections:


If this is your first time here, please read the introduction. It is necessary! If you have been here before, jump down to the games and download your copies!

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Introduction


By 4 years of age, your child's grammar skills are rapidly improving. Your child should be able to use the regular past tense verb form correctly in conversation. 

For a quick grammar review, 

  • Regular past tense verb form is a verb with an -ed ending such as walked, climbed, etc... 
  • Irregular past tense verbs are past tense verbs that do not have an -ed ending such as blew, wake, ran, and fell. Irregular past tense verbs are not expected to be mastered at this age. 

Below are different games to practice use of regular past tense verb forms. The first “game” is drill practice. Drill practice is included to introduce the skill to your child and to get a large number of error free learning. Complete the drill practice activity a few times. 

Once your child seems to be “getting it,” move on to the other games. They are more functional and will help to generalize progress into everyday speech!

Past Tense Verb Games


1. Flash Card Teaching Phase

What You Need: 

How To Use Cards: 

  1. Print the cards or pull them up on some sort of device (computer, tablet, iPad, etc…)
  2. First, name a few cards and have your child watch and listen to show him or her what type of response you are interested in. For example, point to a card and say “he kicked” or “yesterday, he kicked.” 
  3. After completing 1-2 cards, ask your child to repeat your responses for 2-3 more cards. 
  4. Once, your child has learned the pattern, encourage him or her to describe a card without your verbal model...aka...all by him or herself!

Tip:

My recommendation is to repeat this task a few times in a row for about a week or so. Once your child seems to be “getting it,” move on to games the below. They are more functional and this will help to carry-over progress into everyday speech!

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2. House or Farm

What You Need: 

A house, farm, or any toy with little people, animals, or cars

How To Play: 

Get on the floor or sit at a table with your child. Have a toy perform some sort of action such as kicking a ball or jumping etc… Then, ask your child… “what did (toy) just do?”

Hopefully, your child will answer using the regular past tense verb form. If he or she doesn’t get it right, say the correct response and ask him/her to repeat it. 

Tip:

  • To make this game less like a quiz and to model correct grammar for your child, make sure to have your child perform an action with a toy and you narrate the action using the past tense! Encourage your child to repeat you but don’t press it!
  • Remember that many verbs have irregular past tense verb forms (i.e., past tense of run is ran). Your child is not expected to know irregular past tense verbs. However, it doesn’t hurt to expose them to such grammar!

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3. Reminisce About the Day

What You Need:

Nothing!

How To Play: 

Before bed, talk about the day using the past tense. In this activity, use of past tense verbs happen very naturally. However, be aware that open ended questions (i.e., How was your day?) can be difficult for some children, especially young children. There are more specific questions below to try at first.

After you ask a question, wait for your child to respond. If the response is correct using the regular past tense, praise him or her and ask another question. If your child doesn’t use correct grammar, say the correct response and ask for a repetition. Then, move on to a new question.

Example Questions

  • What was your favorite part of the day?
  • What TV show did you watch?
  • What did you like at dinner?
  • What did you do at the park?
  • Who today did you play with today?

After you ask a question, wait for your child to respond. If the response is correct using the regular past tense verb form, praise him or her and ask another question.

If your child doesn’t use correct grammar, say the correct response and ask for a repetition. Then, move on to a new question.

Tip:

Try to make this game fun and enjoyable. Don’t turn it into a quiz! Don’t over correct either or your child will start avoiding it. After a few nights of the same routine, your child will start to pick up on the correct answers! Also, take turns yourself so your child hears a lot of correct past tense grammar. 

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› Past Tense